‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants’

‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’ This quote is by an author from the US by the name of Michael Pollan, and a quote that I think resonates with the way humans would most benefit from eating.

Research shows that adequate consumption of plant food reduces the risk of developing a variety of medical conditions, ranging from obesity to cancer, and everything in between. In my private practice work, much of it is working with people with inflammatory joint disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia). For people with these conditions, consuming adequate amounts of vegetables is absolutely essential, due to the positive effects vegetables have on these conditions.

However the statistics are telling a different story. In 2011-12, only 48.5% of the population ate the recommended quantity of fruit, whilst only 8.2% ate the recommended amount of vegetables on a daily basis (ABS, 2012). 8.2%. That is 8 people in 100, or less than 1 person in 10.

So what can we do about it? Following are some easy ways of adding vegetables to your daily intake, to help you achieve that 5 serves per day:

  • Base your main meal around vegetables, rather than basing it around meat. Aim for half of your main meals to be vegetables or salad.
  • It is ok to deviate from recipes – add extra veggies in, or prepare more to have on the side.
  • Include in your snacks – snow peas, carrots, celery, capsicum, cucumber, green beans… All these (and more) make awesome snacks, and are nice and portable.
  • Be prepared. If your fridge isn’t stocked, of course it will be more difficult to get them in. Plan ahead.
  • Keep emergencies in the freezer. Whether this is snap frozen veggies from the supermarket, or homemade dishes that you have frozen portions off, there will never be a reason to skip the veggies!
  • If you like juices and smoothies, choose vegetable based ones (rather than fruit based due to the sugar content). My fave? Spinach, celery, cucumber, apple, ginger and mint (just add 1 or ½ an apple).
  • Try new ones. If you are feeling sick of ‘the same old same old’, make it your mission to experiment with a different vegetable each week. Your green grocer/farmers market is likely to have something you’ve never seen before, or maybe rarely use.

Happy veggie eating!

Ref: Australian Bureau of Statistics website, 2012 ‘Daily Intake of Fruit and Vegetables’

About Chloe McLeod